Anyone who works in recruiting for a growing startup knows that that job is nothing less than a nightmare. Competition is fierce, budgets are low and the need for talented hires is high. As a great example, I look no further than to my own company, Yotpo, where Tamar Tepper, head of talent acquisition, was tasked with hiring 19 people in 30 days . . . with a $600 budget.
To pull it off, Tepper says, she knew she would need to get creative -- beyond the usual strategies. “Office perks and generous salaries have traditionally been the go-to way to lure in top talent, but in the ever-more competitive landscape, recruiters have to think differently,” she recently told me.
"Thinking differently," for Tepper, meant focusing in on how she could tap into our existing employees in order to grow our reach. “Employee referrals just make sense,” she says. “People like to work with their friends; they’re easier to on-board; and good employees tend to attract more good employees.”
Plus, the recruitment needs of a startup are way too challenging for a small team to handle. In order to hire the best talent quickly, the entire company needs to be in hiring mode all the time and constantly fired up about finding great, new team members. Unfortunately, however, standard employee-referral programs are the opposite of exciting. Even the best bonuses won’t get employees fired up on a daily basis.
Instead, to really see results, Tepper described to me four creative ways to get employees genuinely excited about finding new people.
Tamar’s tips for hiring on a budget:
Word of mouth through social media. “Word-of-mouth marketing is much more powerful than any organized recruitment efforts could be,” Tepper says. “Every recruiting effort you organize should be visual and highly share-able. Always ask yourself -- is this something people will be dying to share on Facebook or Instagram?”
When your employees share your recruiting efforts in their online social circles, you get free, targeted advertising on social networks. Furthermore, your company is backed by social proof, so your employees' friends are more likely to trust posts asking for resumes than they would posts from a generic recruiter.
Photos depicting people's employment status. If your excitement-generating campaigns are buzz-worthy enough, employees will naturally want to share photos of their present- or post-status updates on social media; that way, news will spread organically. Before you know it, everyone in tech in your area will have a social newsfeed flooded with pictures about your job openings.
“You want word-of-mouth to share entirely on its own -- it should never be forced," Tepper says. "People can easily tell when others post because they 'have to,' rather than because they 'want to.'”
A sense of urgency. In the fast-paced startup world, hiring can never happen fast enough. It’s important, then, to create a sense of urgency among employees. To do this, Tepper organized a dedicated "hiring month" to keep hiring on employees’ minds all the time. She organized multiple efforts to keep employees engaged in the month and posted signs up in a highly visible part of the office, so open positions were always in sight, and therefore, in mind.
Fun events and giveaways. To kick off the month, employees entered the office one day to find 200 branded balloons imprinted with the words, “We are hiring.” During the second week, Tepper ordered cupcakes with our open positions printed on them and encouraged everyone to submit at least one CV for a position for every cupcake he or she ate.
The next week, everyone entered the office to find a bamboo plant on his or her desk with a sticker that said, “We are growing.”
The third event: The month ended with branded tote bags (just in time for Tel Aviv beach weather) as well as branded beers and popsicles.